The Blog from Oi Polloi presents: by Patrick Little •

We were chuffed when we heard Le Coq Sportif had taken back sponsorship of the Tour De France this year, after doing a great job sponsoring the L’eroica race in the Tuscan hills. As the official outfitter of the tour all the way back in 1951, they went on to sponsor the race through to the late eighties. And with such greats as Eddie Merkx, Bernard Hinault and Laurent Fignon all winning ‘Le Grand Boucle’ in a Le Coq ‘maillot jaune’ (that’s yellow jersey, in case you were wondering) it’s great to see the rooster back where it belongs.

After receiving an invite from the good people at Le Coq Sportif to attend stage three of this year’s tour, which set off from the northern town of Orchies, we packed up and headed out.

After seeing the teams arrive and prepare for the gruelling day ahead, we set off in the sponsor’s caravan (a surprisingly entertaining and pretty surreal 80-year-old tradition we’d never heard of before). We were unbelievably privileged to be chauffeured by Denis Roux, former French cyclist and Canadian national coach, who competed in six Tours himself. As race control crackled away in the background, Denis was happy to explain race tactics and answer our questions, all the while expertly meandering through giant lions, Vittel bottles and pork chops on wheels. It was great to absorb the atmosphere created by the thousands who lined the roadside, especially as we arrived at the finish, where the young Slovakian whippet Peter Sagan brought home the stage win.

We’ve always followed the tour, but the trip was a real eye opener to everything which goes on outside of the race itself to make it such a spectacle. It was an amazing couple of days and a huge thank you to Mike, Marc & Billy who made it possible.

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